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Nov 27, 2017 04:05 PM EST

Harvard Medical Team Develops Robotic Device for Patients with Heart Failure


A robotic device has been developed to assist cardiac activity in patients with heart failure.

The Boston Children's Hospital and the Harvard Medical School team developed a robotic device to help heart patients with heart failure patients and published a research paper in the journal Science Robotics.

The best treatment for patients with heart failure is a heart transplant. Patients with heart failure prior to heart transplantation will attach 'ventricular assist devices' (VADs). The ventricular assist device increases the pump capacity of the heart so that sufficient blood is supplied to the body. However, thrombosis in the VADS artificial tubing can cause stroke or cardiac arrest. To prevent this, blood thinners should be administered.

The newly developed robotic device helps the heartbeat without side effects such as stroke or cardiac arrest. The robot consists of three parts: a half-moon frame surrounding the heart, a muscular band that can constrict or twist the heart, and an anchor to the heart. The researchers tested the device successfully against pigs.

This device does not target the entire heart. Usually heart failure occurs when one of the left ventricle or right ventricle fails to function. The right ventricle pumps the heart, sends the blood to the lungs, and sends the left ventricle to the body. A robotic device is installed only in the ventricle where the abnormality occurs to help the beating. Unlike VADs, this device does not require blood thinners and does not cause side effects such as thrombosis.

The development of this robotic device is expected to help 26 million patients worldwide suffering from heart failure. Especially, it will be useful for children who do not have enough blood supply from the heart because of inherited factors. It have not tested it yet. Sufficient clinical trials are needed to ensure stable use in people. In the future, it plan to reduce the size of the air pump box connected to the unit so that it can be carried easily.

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